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Nacho Mama's; Mom's Siam

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Nacho Mama's serves it up without a lot of fire or spice. It offers a fair range of familiar Mexican-American dishes with a twist — including items such as Mama's Mexican pizza appetizer ($5.95) and a trendy, portobello-mushroom wrap ($7.25). The complimentary tortilla chips come accompanied by a very quiet salsa whose pureed ingredients lack zest.

The carnitas cubanas — tender chunks of pork marinated in Cuban spices — were pleasant. Served with rice, black beans and a very mild salsa verde, the large portion of shredded pork took up most of the plate. The Cuban-style marinade was indistinct, but the pork was juicy and flavorful. The vegetarian burrito was unimpressive; it seemed to lack flavor and the rice that accompanied it was dry. The grilled vegetables wrapped in the burrito also lacked texture, adding to the general mediocrity of the meal.

The desserts — fried ice cream or a Kahlua flan — seem less inspiring than the impressive selection of margaritas. In fact, Mama's ultimate margarita ($7) with Cuervo 1800 and Grand Marnier, may be the best in Richmond. — Aer Stephens

Nacho Mama's
3449 W. Cary St.
Lunch and dinner served Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Brunch Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
358-6262

About six months ago a new Thai restaurant slipped quietly into Carytown and opened shop under a plain, lighted sign that says, simply, "Authentic Thai." After a number of visits, I noticed that the food is consistently fresh, the service unfailingly polite, and the prices quite reasonable. Ultra-fresh julienne green papaya combined with roasted peanuts, chili peppers and lime juice, create somtum ($4.95), a bright, juicy, bugle-blast of electrifying flavors that progress from sweet to sour to hot. It's a wake-up call for your mouth and characteristic of Mom's brand of Thai: well-balanced and boldly flavored.

An excellent match for somtum is the more sober pad Thai, the national dish of Thailand: thin rice noodles stir-fried with shrimp, chicken, ground roasted peanuts, scallions and bean sprouts. Mom's pad Thai ($7.95) comes out very evenly flavored from a well-seasoned wok and without adornment or an abundance of oil. Finish with some Thai iced tea ($1.50) and a dessert of fresh, ripe mango and sticky rice ($3.95) and you will have had a very healthy, harmonious, satisfying meal for about $20. — Noel Patrick

Mom's Siam
2929 W. Cary St.
359-7606
Monday-Thursday: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Dinner 5 p.m.-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.,
Dinner 4:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Sunday: Lunch Noon-2 p.m., Dinner 2 p.m.- 10

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